Sharing and comparing my method for trying to beat the spread

I live in the Midwest which is Big Ten country. Once conference play starts virtually every Big Ten game is televised in my region and I commit myself to try and watch all of them. I have three televisions set up as some games are being played at the same time. I have no bias or affiliation to any Big Ten team as I am a lifelong Notre Dame fan (I include ND games in my viewing schedule as well). My comments and reports are qualified only by my love of the game and an extreme commitment to watching and following Big Ten football.

Monday, October 20, 2014

BIG TEN FOOTBALL ATS WHAT HAPPENED WEEK 8


WHAT HAPPENED

I split last Saturday with one winner and one loser. My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 10-15 (ATS Predictions - Week 8).
My Record:  5-2


THE PLAYS
Michigan St 56  Indiana 17   (Michigan St -16)
I predicted Michigan St. to win, 52 to 14.  I easily got the cover here, as my predicted score was pretty accurate. The scoring sequence didn’t go as I envisioned, though. I figured Michigan St. to put the Hoosiers away by halftime, but as it turned out, the first half of this game was fairly competitive.
Michigan St. didn’t live up to my expectations considering Indiana is one of the worst teams in the conference and was down to its third string QB. The Spartans have the better talent and wore down the Hoosiers in the second half, but early in the game they had trouble stopping the Hoosiers and their inexperienced QB, and also had difficulties on offense against a defense that’s among the worst in the country. But I suppose if there was ever a time for a top ten team to be uninspired, a game against Indiana would be that time. And they did end up winning big, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh. But I dunno, somehow this game didn’t change my suspicion that the Spartans aren’t as dominant as many think.
Indiana –by the HC Kevin Wilson era standards – was struggling offensively even before starting QB Nate Sudfeld suffered a season ending injury. But even with the backup QB they found ways to get into the end zone early in this game. Nonetheless, without Sudfeld this team’s chances of becoming bowl eligible are slim.

Maryland 38  Iowa 31   (Maryland -4.5)
I predicted Iowa to win, 35-23. Big whiff on this one. I might’ve underestimated Maryland some, but not nearly as much as I overestimated Iowa.
Iowa was not the better team in any phase of this game. Including the coaching. I predicted the Hawkeyes to win with moderate success running the ball. But for whatever reason, the OC all but abandoned the running game. I’m not implying that the ground game was all that successful, but it seemed to be working better than the three and outs that the vanilla passing game was producing. But then, I guess it didn’t matter. The defense couldn’t tackle Maryland QB C.J. Brown anyway.
Brown turned in the interceptions I predicted, but he otherwise played a good game, particularly with his legs. The Iowa pass rush got to him on several occasions but Brown was able to escape and turn a sack into positive yardage. And he also threw some nice passes. He was knocked out of the game for a while but the Terps didn’t miss a beat against the slow Hawkeyes defense.
Maybe Iowa just had a bad game, but from the couch it appears that the Hawkeyes are simply lacking the overall talent to be a contender in this conference. Sure, Maryland is a good enough team, particularly on offense, but they did (in their previous game) just get trounced at home against Ohio St.

THE NON-PLAYS
Ohio St 56  Rutgers 17   (Ohio St -22)
I predicted Ohio St to win, 34-17. As I predicted in my write-up, Rutgers was simply outmatched in this game.
I also said the Ohio St. coaching staff has molded QB J.T. Barrett into a viable replacement for the injured Braxton Miller. Barrett is proving to be better than “viable”. As a result, the Buckeyes are on a roll.
Rutgers ran into a buzz-saw here as this game was over by halftime. The Scarlet Knights have exceeded expectations this season, but they they’re not on the same level as the Buckeyes. Particularly not the way Ohio St. is playing right now.

Minnesota 39  Purdue 38   (Minnesota -12)
I predicted Minnesota to win, 27-17. I was right about some things in my prediction write-up, and wrong about others (ATS Predictions - Week 8). Obviously I was wrong about the scoring – I expected less offense and more defense. But I was right in that I expected Purdue to jump to an early lead and give the Gophers a good fight.
I figured Minnesota to be flat. Hard to tell if they were because Purdue is improving each week. At any rate, the favored Gophers had to come from behind to get the win. QB Mitch Leidner seems to be improving, but the Minnesota run defense took a step back.
Despite the loss, I would call this game another step forward for the Boilermakers when you consider where they came from. I said in my prediction write-up that they’re not yet on Minnesota’s level; but losing by only a point says they’re not far from it.

Nebraska 38  Northwestern 17   (Nebraska -6.5)
I predicted Nebraska to win, 24-23. And I was tempted to call for a Northwestern upset.
Northwestern started off strong enough and took a lead into the half. But the second half was all Nebraska.
Although I wasn’t sure, I was leaning towards Northwestern’s run defense being able to hold up for the whole game. It didn’t; the ‘Huskers eventually wore them down. But my most significant miscalculation was that I figured Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong incapable of consistently moving the ball through the air. He proved to be perfectly capable in this game. I don’t feel like it was a bad prediction because I’ve never seen him throw this well before. In fact, this might have been Armstrong’s best game as a passer against a legitimate defense.

Florida St 31  Notre Dame 27   (Florida St -9)
I predicted Florida St. to win, 35-28. I was tempted to call for an upset in this one, too. I wish I would have ‘cuz doing so would have qualified this game as a play and a win. And I really wouldn’t have been all that inaccurate as the Irish had a touchdown called back in the closing seconds of the game. But as it turns out, my prediction was very close to the final score.
This was a great game that solidified my belief that Notre Dame is for real. The previous Saturday’s narrow victory against North Carolina gave me some concerns about the Irish defense. Even though they gave up 31, this was a much better performance against a top ranked team. Right now I think Notre Dame is better than any team left on their schedule, but winning out against that slate is a tall order.



ATS 
FTC DOLLARS
In this section I track the results of my Crystal Ball selections that qualify as “plays” ATS (any prediction that differs from the closing line by seven or more points). I’ve also included the results of some unsuspecting prognosticators (conference games only) that I found on line. The standings are based on how many “FTC” dollars are won. For a more detailed explanation of this section, please refer to the “FTC $ Q&A” tab at the top of this post.

I’m still clinging to first place although Tom Dienhart from BTN is close on my heels. As of now, we’re the only two on the positive side of the FTC dollars ledger. It was, however, a good overall Saturday for most of the contestants as six of my competitors gained ground.  All but three of us got in on the “Michigan St. over Indiana” party.  There’s no such thing as a “lock”, but a 16 point spread looked almost too good to be true. 

ATS  PLAY STANDINGS
LAST SATURDAY
TOTAL
FTC $
W
L
T
W
L
T
FROM THE COUCH
1
1
0
4
2
0
$90
TOM DEINHART (btn)
2
1
0
5
3
0
$85
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
1
0
0
1
1
0
-$5
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
0
1
0
3
3
0
-$15
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
0
2
0
5
5
0
-$25
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
0
0
0
2
3
0
-$65
DAVID FOX (athlon)
2
0
0
4
6
0
-$130
BRENT YARINA (btn)
2
1
0
3
6
0
-$180
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
2
1
0
4
7
0
-$185
STAT RAT (pubhole)
1
0
0
4
7
0
-$185



 DETAILS

THIS WEEK'S PLAY DETAILS
WINNERS
LOSERS
WEBSITE
FROM THE COUCH
MSU,
IOW,
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
MSU,
STAT RAT (pubhole)
MSU,
TOM DEINHART (btn)
MSU,
PUR,
IOW,
BRENT YARINA (btn)
MSU,
PUR,
RUT,
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
MSU,
NEB,
RUT,
DAVID FOX (athlon)
MSU,
OSU,
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
IOW,
RUT,
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
IOW,
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)






SEASON STATS 

I’m no lower than second in three of the categories and dropped to fourth in the “Spread Record” category. Mitch Light (from Athlon) was  4-1 in the “Spread Record” and “Closest” categories last Saturday; good enough to move him to first place in both. Tom Dienhart from BTN is still at the top of what I consider to be the most significant barometer among these four lists; the “Within 7” category.


SPREAD RECORD
W
L
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
13
9
FROM THE COUCH
18
5
TOM DEINHART (btn)
12
10
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
17
6
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
12
11
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
17
6
FROM THE COUCH
11
10
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
17
6
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
11
12
DAVID FOX (athlon)
16
7
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
10
13
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
16
7
STAT RAT (pubhole)
9
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
16
7
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
8
14
STAT RAT (pubhole)
15
8
BRENT YARINA (btn)
8
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
15
8
DAVID FOX (athlon)
8
15
BRENT YARINA (btn)
14
9
WITHIN 7
W
L
CLOSEST
W
L
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
13
9
FROM THE COUCH
8
15
FROM THE COUCH
11
10
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
8
15
TOM DEINHART (btn)
10
12
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
8
15
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
10
13
MITCH LIGHT (athlon)
8
15
SEAN MERRIMAN (btn)
9
13
BRENT YARINA (btn)
6
17
STAT RAT (pubhole)
9
13
BRADEN GALL (athlon)
6
17
KEVIN RYAN (247sports)
9
14
STAT RAT (pubhole)
5
18
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
8
14
DAVID FOX (athlon)
5
18
DAVID FOX (athlon)
8
15
STEVEN LASSAN (athlon)
5
18
BRENT YARINA (btn)
7
16


SPREAD RECORD-Simply displays the ATS record.
STRAIGHT UP- The outright winner, disregarding the spread.
WITHIN 7-This category tracks how many times a predicted point spread was within seven points of the final score differential. Why does this matter? Because one can never lose in the play category if the prediction is within 7 points. 35 percent is about average in this category. Close to 50 percent is excellent.
CLOSEST - It’s possible to be on the correct side of the spread yet not be as accurate as the oddsmakers. EX: If I predict Michigan by 12, the spread is 6, and Michigan wins by 7, I get a win in the spread record category. I get a loss in the closest category because the spread (7-6=1) was closer than my prediction (12-7=5).

Any games that go into overtime will be considered a tie when calculating the “closest” and “within 7” category. The actual score will be used, however, for the other two categories.


NOTRE DAME

I predict Notre Dame games along with the Big Ten conference games. Other than the occasions when Notre Dame plays a Big Ten team, these predictions aren’t included in the standings/comparisons as my competition doesn’t make predictions for Notre Dame vs non-Big Ten conference games. Listed below are my stats for Notre Dame games that aren’t included in the standings.

PLAYS
SPREAD RECORD
CLOSEST
WITHIN 7
STRAIGHT UP
W
L
T
W
L
W
L
W
L
W
L
1
0
0
3
0
3
0
3
1
4
0




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